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Tapioca Maltodextrin: Dust Never Sleeps

29 May, 2013
/ by John Duffy/
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    Have  you ever known the pleasure of licking the powdery residue of puffed cheese snacks (think "cheese that goes CRUNCH") from your fingertips? Then you are acquainted with the delicious results of combining a fat with a very fine starch.  Snack makers use this technique to add flavor to the exterior of an otherwise plainly flavored textural vehicle.  Imagine a Doritos chip.  The chip itself tastes like ground dried corn, with a little salt.  The flavor of cheese, spices, ranch dressing, or any number of exotic combinations, is imparted by the powdery dust applied to the exterior of the chip.

    From a manufacturer’s point of view, this technique simply enhances production.  They can make one basic chip, and flavor it many ways, simply by using a different flavored powder.  And the powder is easier to apply, and requires less clean up, than making the chip itself in a variety of flavors.

Cuisine Tech Tapioca Maltodextrin recipe

    How many varieties?  Doritos can be found in Nacho Cheese, Chile Limon, Nacho Pisco, Enchilada Supreme, Ranch Dipped Hot Wings, Spicy Chipotle BBQ, Cool Ranch, Salsa Verde, Spicy Sweet Chili, or Taco (the original Dorito).  Lay’s Potato Chips can be found in Barbecue, Cheddar and Sour Cream, BLT, Dill Pickle, Garden Tomato, Honey Barbecue, Limon, Salt and Vinegar, Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue, Tangy Carolina BBQ, Sour Cream and Onion, Southwestern Ranch, Jalapeno, Maui Onion, Mesquite BBQ, Au Gratin, and Pizza flavors.

    The basic formula is:
Chip + Dust + Imagination = Crunch + Flavor + Hugely Popular Food Item

    How do they make that magical flavored dust?  It’s simple.  Any dried ingredient, like chili peppers or herbs, can be pulverized to extreme fineness.  Powdered cheeses and dehydrated dairy products (sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese) can be added.  But the truly delicious flavors come from fats.  And to make a fat into a powder, you need to add a starch.

    What would be the ideal properties for this starch be?

  • neutral flavor, so you would taste the fat, not the starch
  •  low sweetness
  • dissolve easily, for the best flavor release
  • not absorb moisture, so it won’t clump
  • have tiny granules and dissolve easily for great mouthfeel

    Tapioca maltodextrin has all of these properties, which makes it an ideal choice to turn your favorite fat into a smooth, tasty, free-flowing powder.  And it’s so easy to use that it requires almost no skill to produce a great result.



    Just select a flavorful fat base.  It could be anything- olive oil, Nutella, peanut butter, or white chocolate.  Or rendered fat from chorizo, foie gras, lardo de Iberico, or roasted chicken.  Place that fat into a food processor, turn it on, and add tapioca maltodextrin until you reach the desired texture of powder.  Add a little and have a fattier, heavier powder, or add more until the powder is very light.  The amount you add determines the final result.



    How does it work?  Tapioca maltodextrin is a polysaccharide.  When mixed with the fat, the molecules slide between the tiny fat droplets formed by agitation (the food processor).  The fat gets so thick that the droplets can no longer move.  And the molecules form a three dimensional matrix arounfd the fat droplets.  That prevents the fat from recombining into larger globules, so the emulsion of fat and starch remains stable.

    Once prepared, your flavored powder has limitless applications. From sprinkles to splashes to spoonfuls, on the plate, dusted on or over, it’s up to you!

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